What Car? says...
You might think you’ve never heard of the Genesis GV80 but it is, indirectly, quite famous. That’s because it’s the car Tiger Woods was driving when he had that rather nasty accident.
If your reaction to that is, ‘Oh dear, I won't buy one of those then’, consider this: LA police estimate that Woods left the road at between 84 and 87mph, hit a tree and flipped several times. The fact that he survived is not a miracle – it’s largely down to how safe the GV80 is.
Indeed, in its subsequent Euro NCAP safety appraisal, it secured a five-star overall rating with excellent marks for both adult and child occupant protection, plus there are loads of standard driving aids to help (if not completely guarantee) you avoid accidents in the first place.
All very impressive, but luxury SUV buyers are spoilt for choice, with outstanding cars including the Audi Q7 and the BMW X5 available for similar money. In short, the Genesis GV80 needs to be more than just a one-trick pony if it’s going to compete seriously in such esteemed company.
Genesis is, as it stands, the only premium brand hailing from South Korea, and the GV80 is its flagship model, sitting above the smaller (but still not small) Genesis GV70 SUV. So, let's see how the GV80 compares with key rivals in all the important areas – everything from performance to pricing.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Choosing an engine isn’t hard because there’s only one option: a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol. This packs a hefty 300bhp and enables the Genesis GV80 to hit 62mph from a standstill in 6.9sec. That's a perfectly respectable time, but it's worth noting that an equivalent Audi Q7 or BMW X5 is much faster.
The engine in the GV80 needs revving quite hard before it delivers its best performance, too – not an ideal trait in a car that’s designed to waft its occupants around peacefully. And, to make matters worse, the GV80 doesn’t do a great job of keeping road rumble away from your ears – at least on the huge 22in wheels fitted to mid-spec Luxury models and above.
The smaller 20in wheels that come as standard on entry-level Premium trim are likely to be a better bet and should also benefit ride comfort, but they'd have to make a huge difference for the GV80 to cushion you better than a Q7 or X5.
This is despite the fact the GV80 comes with something called Road Preview Technology, which is essentially a camera that scans ahead and primes the suspension to deal with potholes, speed humps and other obstacles. Frankly, the system doesn’t seem to work very well – potholes still send an uncouth thwack through the interior.
On top of this, you're jostled around annoyingly at urban speeds, so if maximum comfort is a priority, this probably isn’t the car for you.
However, the GV80 corners well enough for a luxury SUV and is more agile than a Land Rover Discovery. We’d prefer a more pronounced build-up of steering weight when turning into corners on faster roads, but the relative lightness is welcome in town.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The driving position in the Genesis GV80 is tough to fault, with it super easy to set everything up just the way you want it.
That’s because all versions come with fully electric front seats as standard, including adjustable lumbar support, and even the steering wheel moves up and down, and in and out, at the touch of a button.
True, the windscreen pillars get in the way a bit at junctions and roundabouts (the problem is worse if you’re tall) but you shouldn’t have any issues manoeuvring into tight spots thanks to a standard rear-view camera and parking sensors at the front and rear of the car.
If you want extra reassurance, the Innovation Package adds a surround view monitor, displaying camera feeds from all around the car. The package also includes a feature that lets you remotely park your GV80 with the key fob while you stand outside beside it, in much the same way the Summon function works on certain Tesla models.
An enormous 14.5in touchscreen sits in the middle of the dashboard and can be used to control all the infotainment functions, including music and navigation. It’s a bit of a reach if your preferred driving position involves you having the seat quite far back, and the fact that you need to swipe left and right to access different functions is quite distracting while you’re driving.
Fortunately, there is another way to control the system: using a controller between the front seats. It works a bit like a first-generation iPod because there’s a wheel that you spin with your finger to scroll across the screen, plus a button in the middle to press when you want to make a selection.
It doesn’t take long to get used to, although it's not as intuitive as the larger iDrive rotary controller in the BMW X5.
You get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard on all GV80s, along with a nine-speaker sound system. The optional 18-speaker Lexicon system is well worth considering if you like to crank up the volume, though – it resists distortion well and the sound quality is excellent.
As for interior quality, the GV80 isn’t quite a match for the best luxury SUVs from German car makers, but it edges the Land Rover Discovery and feels sturdier inside than the Mercedes GLE (the indicator stalks feel particularly classy). Only some scratchy plastic around the centre of the steering wheel lets the side down.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You wouldn’t expect a five-metre-long SUV to feel anything other than hugely roomy inside, and there are no surprises in the front of the Genesis GV80.
As well as having plenty of head and leg room for a couple of tall people, you’ll find a good selection of storage cubbies – something that helps make up for the small door pockets and glovebox.
The second-row seats are more than roomy enough for a couple of six-footers (even though leg room isn’t quite as generous as in the Audi Q7). What's more, if you stump up for the Second Row Comfort Pack (standard on Luxury Plus models) the seats gain the ability to slide back and forth and recline under their own power; without it, you’ll have to do this manually.
If you add that pack to seven-seat car models, the third row seats can be summoned electrically from the boot floor. Leg room in the rearmost seats is reasonable but head room is decidedly tight. The Q7 is better in that respect, but if you want a luxury SUV that can carry seven adults in proper comfort, check out our reviews of the BMW X7 and Land Rover Discovery.
With all seven seats in use there’s hardly any space left for luggage, but when you fold them away into the floor (or if you’ve gone for the five-seat version) there’s loads of space for family holiday clutter or a few sets of golf clubs.
Genesis quotes official boot capacity in an unusual way, making comparisons with European rivals tricky. As in the Q7 and BMW X5, though, the middle row seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, while the third row seats are split 50:50.
Storage space in the middle row includes map pockets on the back of the front seats and a pair of pop-out cupholders on the fold-down centre armrest.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Genesis GV80 starts at broadly the same price as the Audi Q7, and Land Rover Discovery, and it's cheaper than the BMW X5.
That’s only one dimension of costs, though – it’s important to factor in long-term ownership bills and what you’re actually getting for your money.
Sadly, the GV80’s long-term costs aren’t helped by the fact that it’s predicted to depreciate more quickly than those three cars. That's an unfortunate consequence of the Genesis brand not having the long and illustrious history here of its big European rivals.
The petrol engine means it’s not particularly economical either, and high CO2 emissions put all versions of the GV80 in the top (37%) band of benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax; the lack of any form of hybrid engine option means it makes little sense as a company car.
More positively, even entry-level Premium trim comes with adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and keyless start. You'll need to upgrade to Luxury if you want genuine leather seats, heated rear seats, sunblinds for the rear windows and real wood trim on the dashboard.
Luxury Plus adds ventilated seats, a head-up display, soft-close doors and the Lexicon sound system upgrade.
The GV80’s impressive five star Euro NCAP safety score is helped by the 10 airbags you get as standard, along with automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-keeping assistance.
More safety technology is available as part of the Innovation Pack that comes as standard on Luxury Plus and is optional on all other trim levels. This extends the automatic emergency braking function to work when reverse parking, and when the driver navigates crossings and junctions.
While we don't have any UK-based reliability data for the GV80, Genesis has finished top of several ownership satisfaction surveys in the US, where it’s been selling cars for several years now.
Every car is backed up by a five-year unlimited mileage warranty. Genesis is the luxury offshoot of Hyundai, which performs well as a manufacturer, finishing seventh out of 32 car makers in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey.
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As Genesis is part of the Hyundai Motor Group, the Genesis GV80 is manufactured in South Korea in the same factory grounds as other Hyundai cars.
Because Genesis is a relatively new brand in the UK, there is little data to suggest how reliable the cars are. Its parent company, Hyundai, performs well as a manufacturer in our reliability survey, which could be a positive indication for this luxury arm.
The Genesis GV80 is the largest model in the range. At 4945mm long and 1715mm in height, the GV80 is 230mm longer and 85mm taller than the GV70.
|RRP price range||£60,525 - £75,825|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||26.1 - 26.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||5 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£4,311 / £5,443|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£8,621 / £10,885|